Mugabe, 92, splashes millions on holiday as Zimbabweans starve

2016-12-22 20:06
Robert Mugabe (File: AP)

Robert Mugabe (File: AP)

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Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's month-long annual vacation in the Far East is set to gobble over $6m at a time when the southern African country's economy is in a deep plunge. 

Zimbabwean authorities are failing to service the wage bill, the country's financial sector has been hit by a crippling liquidity crisis and at least 90% of the country's citizens are unemployed.

Mugabe and his family, including a large entourage of security aides, left Harare for Singapore on Tuesday night aboard a chartered flight. They are only expected back in the country at the end of January 2017.

Zimbabwe's former finance minister, Tendai Biti, told the local Newsday newpaper that Mugabe collects at least $4m from treasury each time he embarks on foreign trips and at least $6m when he goes on his annual leave.

"Every time the President leaves the country he takes with him $4m in hard cash which in most cases is raided from the RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) system," Biti was quoted as saying.

Official engagements 

"This is part of the reason why we have cash shortages, because accounts for ordinary people are raided to fund unnecessary travel. With his relatives and security personnel over the month-long holiday he could spend close to $6m."

Although no exact figures could be obtained from treasury, the amount that Mugabe could spend during the current vacation may even be much higher, particularly after his spokesperson George Charamba revealed that the president would embark on other official trips in between his vacation. 

"The (annual) leave shall be interspersed with official engagements, including one which is related to the African Union," said Charamba.

Mugabe will be joining other leaders of the continental body who are expected to convene in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from January 27 to 31 for the grouping's 28th summit. 

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party has described Mugabe's trip to the Far East as "an expensive an unnecessary vacation".

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  tendai biti  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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